The Web is a chaotic place. Anyone with a computer connected to the Internet can put up a web server and distributed files with whatever content they wish, for as short or long a period as they wish. In the web's infancy, and within certain niches today, manually maintained 'favorite links' provide the means for a tightly-knit community to track the sites of interest to them. Once the number of sites became large it was clear that automated tools were needed, and search sites such as AltaVista, Excite, and Yahoo emerged or evolved. These services use an automated browser to retrieve, index, and catalog web pages at intervals. Searches of the database yields the web address, or URL, of pages containing specific words.
For those seeking to use the Web as a teaching resource, these are not really adequate. The databases simply catalog pages according to the words they contain, rather than the meaning of those words, so it is very difficult to compose searches using discipline-specific but common wording. A search of AltaVista for 'prairie school' yielded some 100,000 documents! A search on 'Frank Lloyd Wright' found some 10,000 documents, and a quick look at the first 100 indicated that every one was actually about the architect. Amongst this seeming treasure-trove however are pages cataloging stolen merchandise (a portfolio of FLW drawings), and other chaff. Even if all this information is correct, sorting through it is time consuming.
The project described in this paper has several facets, including the goal of increasing the availability of quality architectural case studies, but it also represents an effort to develop a content 'multi-site.' That is, a source of web-based information that might become both the place where an author would want to be listed, and the place where the researcher would think to go to find data.